The problem with the Iranian-Qatari anti-Saudi media and PR blitz is its lack of originality, logic and creativity. My counterparts in heated debates — on a Russia Today program — were repeating the same questions and accusations over and over again. So, I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I explain away all these issues, I might, once and for all, put an end to the misunderstanding that their audience may have. As for them, they have no reason to stop their propaganda machine. In fact, as long as Saudi Arabia is on the rise, they'll escalate their shooting in the hope that, somehow, a bullet might hit the Saudi rocket! Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s achievements during his recent visits to Egypt, the United Kingdom and the United States, have pushed their propaganda machine into top gear and at full speed.
Here are their major points of contest and my responses:
Saudi Arabia has given its fortune away to US President Donald Trump, exactly as he promised in his election campaign.
Unlike what Iran did to Iraq — stealing its oil and giving back only to its Iraqi militia and corrupted politicians — no one in the world, let alone constitutional governments like the US and Saudi Arabia, are taken or given money just like that! There are business and governmental deals to go through complicated procedures before being realized. F15 fighter jet deal with Boeing, for example, must be approved first by different US departments, including the Executive Office, Pentagon and the Congress, before negotiations with the manufacturer. Such tedious process takes years to be agreed, and more to be delivered. Therefore, the above deal was negotiated ten years ago but the first jets were delivered recently.
Saudi Arabia has always insisted in all its deals that a good part of them are invested locally. Our Crown Prince has taken this further, by inserting a condition that 50 percent of any military deal must be manufactured locally. This means jobs and training for Saudis, transfer of technology and the establishment of profitable, exporting, sophisticated defense industry.
Investment in the future
Therefore, a $400 billion deal may sound a waste of money on weapons we might not need, at a cost we cannot afford, on a short notice. However, it is actually a good investment in the future of Saudi Arabia as a high-tech industrial nation. It will take at least ten years to pay (at an average of $20 billion a year) and half of that would be invested locally in the new defense industry.
Why not investing and aiding Arab countries instead, including Saudi Arabia itself?
Fortunately, we can afford to do all the above, at once. Saudi is, by far, the greatest investor and donor in the Arab and Muslim world. The latest public and private investments in Egypt alone is close to $100 billion. We invested in and supported Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, in addition to our investments in the Gulf states. In the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, for example, we are the biggest international investors.
In addition, Saudi Arabia is a founder and the largest shareholder of the Islamic Development Bank, funding projects in 57 Muslim nations.
Whenever an Arab or Muslim country, including Iran, is devastated by war or hit by natural disasters, Saudi Arabia is always there to help. In Yemen alone, we provided $13 billion in humanitarian help and development, recently.
At home, the Saudi Vision2030 not only increases public investments, but also brings in hundreds of billions from foreign investors to modernize infrastructure, building brand new cities and establishing new-age industries.
Iran is not a danger to Saudi Arabia, and political solutions are possible. The West is exploiting the conflict to milk our treasury.
If we were to support Iranian militias and provide them with missiles to attack Iranian cities, train and equip them to terrorize the nation and bomb their holiest shrines in Qom and Shiraz, would Tehran deal with such aggression diplomatically?
Iran is doing much more than that. It is encircling us with threats and dangers, via their agents in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It supports terrorist groups, Sunni and Shiite, from Al-Qaeda and Daesh (the so-called IS) to Hezbollah and Houthis. It incites people against each other, and against their governments. And it conducts terrorist attacks even in the holiest Muslim city, Makkah. Are we supposed to face all the above with pure diplomacy? We tried that for forty years — it never worked.
We cannot depend on others to protect our nation. The US was about to withdraw from the region in Obama era — a good lesson to remember. A well-equipped army is our dependable shield. Then come allies and friends.
In short, we know what we do. Rest assured dear Arabs that we won’t be distracted from helping you. In fact, we are protecting our Arab and Muslim nation from the Nazis of Tehran.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi